James Duddridge (Minister of State for Africa in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office)
Fiona Woolf (Lord Mayor of the City of London)
Baroness Scotland (UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to South Africa)
Judith Macgregor (British High Commissioner to South Africa)
In May 2014, soon after my appointment as Science and Technology Minister, I attended the Carnegie Group meeting of science Ministers and advisers in the United Kingdom, hosted by the then Minister of State for Universities and Science, David Willetts. During that meeting, Minister Willetts and I discussed the plans for the Newton Fund cooperation with South Africa.
Thanks to the hard work and commitment shown by both our countries, today, merely three months later, we are able to sign a Memorandum of Understanding. We have moved with all speed. No time was wasted. I would like to thank all South African and United Kingdom (UK) officials who contributed to this achievement, and in particular High Commissioner Macgregor and her team.
Before the end of the year, South African and UK scientists will be able to access the Newton Fund resources to support their cooperation.
We have heard a number of exciting testimonies of the cooperation initiatives planned under the South Africa-UK Newton Fund collaboration. I would like to highlight why this partnership is so important.
First, the Fund prioritises human capital development and capacity-building. Without the training of the next generation of scientists and engineers, neither of our countries will achieve their ambitious objectives for increasing knowledge-based scientific activities. I specifically look forward to the Newton Fund involving the active participation of our historically disadvantaged institutes of higher learning.
Second, the Fund focusses on the active involvement of industry to ensure our science, technology and innovation investments contribute to economic growth and employment creation. In this regard, I am especially excited about the focus on “big data”, an area where South Africa and the United Kingdom already cooperate actively within the global Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope project. It is indeed highly appropriate that South Africa-UK cooperation in radio astronomy will be one of the first flagships supported under the Newton Fund. We continue to appreciate the United Kingdom’s leadership role in the SKA Organisation.
Third, I would like to highlight the Fund’s focus on the participation of other African countries. South Africa is strongly committed to supporting science, technology and innovation capacity-building elsewhere in Africa, especially within frameworks of the African Union and the Southern African Development Community. I am delighted that through the Newton Fund we will be able to count on the United Kingdom as a partner in this effort.
Fourth, and last, the Fund is a new kind of partnership. The very nature of the partnership is important, as it is underpinned by the values of co-ownership and co-responsibility. The fund’s programme has been jointly designed, the objectives jointly defined and its implementation will be our joint responsibility. It is not one party helping the other but two nations working together, making equivalent investments in their partnership. These values of working together in a true spirit of partnership, based on mutual respect and commitment, are also very important for the broader South Africa-UK political and economic cooperation.
Minister of State, Lord Mayor, High Commissioner, Baroness, Ladies and Gentlemen
Today we sign a memorandum. It’s a milestone in the science and innovation cooperation between our two countries. But we should not relax. I now look forward to rapid and effective implementation.
I thank you all for your participation and support and ask Minister Duddridge to convey to Minister of State for Universities, Science and Cities, Greg Clarke, my personal good wishes and appreciation.
SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS